Frederick William “Will” Spencer was born on June 30, 1882, the eldest child of three born to Frederick and Emma Jane Spencer. Frederick the father had emigrated from England to the United States in 1870. He met and married Emma in Sterling, Illinois, in 1881. Will’s two younger siblings were Charles A., born in 1883, and Emma L., born in 1887.
The children attended school and helped their father grow and peddle vegetables after school. In 1897 the family began to garden on a larger scale with a five acre farm and eventually the brothers expanded their farming operation, renting an additional 300 farm acres.
In 1907 Will and Charles had a double wedding at Dixon Brethren Church on December 8th. Will married Leona Kindig and Fred married Myrtle. After the wedding, Will developed a Holstein herd and earned more than $30,000. Will and Leona then moved to Michigan and bought some farms. One of these was a 180 acre farm located half-a-mile west of Shepherd, Michigan, called Maple Grove Seed Farm. Fred and Myrtle also moved to Michigan: they purchased a 100 acre farm three miles north of Shepherd in 1910. From at least 1934 to 1938, Will functioned as an oil drilling agent for Phillips Drilling Company of Butler, Pennsylvania. Multiple mid-Michigan counties were explored for oil and gas including Clare, Clinton, Isabella, Gladwin, Gratiot, Ionia, Kent, Mecosta, Missaukee, Montcalm, Newaygo, Ogemaw, Saginaw, Shiawassee, and Washtenaw counties.
Leona and Will had one daughter, Hazel, who married Russell Kelley and had three children: Bill, the donor of this collection, David, and Nancy. Will and Leona both died in 1947. Myrtle died in 1966. In 1967 Charles married Daisy Methner of Colman, Michigan, where he resided in his old age. Charles and Lila both were alive in 1970. (This information is from Memories of the Spencer’s 100 Years in U.S.A, 1970, by Charles Spencer, a copy of which is found in the collection.)